Do Remember: Main Source’s Just A Friendly Game Of Baseball (by Rob Swift)
In honor of the upcoming Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival, Ambrosia For Heads asked living turntable legend Rob Swift to do our weekly Do Remember piece. From Scratch (alongside his X-Ecutioners band-mates), to becoming a New School professor, to an ESPN post, the Queens, New York native has brought Hip-Hop and DJ’ing into the mainstream. Along the way, Swift has released two handfuls of albums, varying in concept, style, and collaborations. Considered one of the baddest DJ’s on the planet, many Heads first witnessed Rob in the early 1990s alongside Akinyele and Large Professor.
Notably, that is where Rob’s insights traveled for Do Remember. The onetime artist for Loud and Stones Throw Records traveled back to 1991, for Main Source’s Breaking Atoms. There, he finds one of Large Professor’s most poignant verbal essays (an ongoing focal point in Swift’s music), and one that is disappointingly relevant to Rob’s life, and an ongoing epidemic in America:
I remember being 16 years-old, playing two-hand-touch football in front of the building (pictured below), and all of a sudden, a swarm of cops rolled up on our block. I don’t recall why exactly. But what I do remember is accidentally letting our football roll over to where this one cop was standing. I calmly walked over to retrieve it and as I bent down to pick up the football, the police officer kicked it away. I looked up at him with a “Why’d you do that for” look on my face and his response was, “How does it feel to live in a ghetto?” I also remember the Black cops who stood by and said nothing!
True story. I swear it on my unborn children, yo.
The truth isn’t always beautiful. It can be downright gross. Question is, can you handle the truth? Well, my truth as an Afro-Hispanic living in this country, at least. The ugly truth is racism and bigotry IS America. There’s absolutely no getting around that. What’s more, discrimination plays an integral part in America’s design.
Another young brother hit
I better go over my man’s crib and get the pump.
‘Cause to the cops shootin’ brothers is like playin’ baseball, and they’re never in a slump.” – Large Professor
I’ve known this to be true from the moment I saw a cop grab my unarmed 17 year-old brother by the throat and shove him against a brick wall. I’ve understood this to be factual the day Large Pro explained to me the inspiration behind the lyrics from his 1991 release “It’s Just a Friendly Game of Baseball” by Main Source was waking up with knots on the back of his head as a result of getting hit by a cop’s night stick. I’ve believed this to be a reality when in February of 1999, 19 out of 41 bullets struck and killed Amadou Diallo in the Bronx, New York for no other reason than he was reaching for his wallet. Diallo’s death compelled me to ask my dude Large Pro to help me remake “It’s Just a Friendly Game of Baseball” for my third album War Games, which dropped in 2005.
In 2015, on the 24 year anniversary of the first time I heard Large Pro assert cops will “beat you to your ass drop…” on this unsung hip-hop classic, I accept everything I’ve said in this piece about police to be factual when I consider days ago in McKinney, Texas, the now former police officer Eric Casebolt slammed down a 15 year-old unarmed Black girl in a bikini to the ground, unholstered his gun and proceeded to point it at the girl’s teenage friends.
On the cusp of putting together the songs for my forthcoming album X-Files: Lost & Deleted I couldn’t help but revisit “It’s Just a Friendly Game of Baseball” and create a new remix that reflected the ongoing narrative of police brutality in this country.
I look forward to performing this timeless song at this year’s Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival alongside The Large Professor. The climate in America today compels us to and I personally appreciate the opportunity Large Pro and I will have to use our music to pay respect to the lives of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray and the countless number of young Black men and women who’ve been victimized by police brutality across this nation.
RIP #MikeBrown #EricGarner #FreddieGray
#BonusBeat: Here is Rob’s own 2005 version, featuring Large Professor: